What’s it all about?
Dubbed ‘Queen of the Suburbs’ in the 1880s, Ealing straddled the border between city and country and provided a semi rural retreat for wealthy Londoners. Today its leafy streets and huge Victorian homes, coupled with good transport connections to central London and some of the best bars and restaurants outside the West End, mean it’s still a welcome buffer between life in the urban jungle and rural bliss. Ealing locals have embraced the village way of life and formed a self contained community, with their own summer festivals, galleries and theatre and arts groups. Part of the community’s strength comes from the longevity of its residents, as once house hunters have moved to Ealing they tend to stay, perhaps upsizing to a larger home outside of the town centre. It’s thanks to their efforts that Ealing has retained its countryside charm and resisted developers’ proposals to construct huge industrial blocks of flats. Its skyline remains relatively uncluttered, with only a few stylish high rise blocks of contemporary flats and apartments in the mix. The arrival of Crossrail in 2018 is likely to increase and accelerate property development, but various vocal community groups in Ealing will ensure that there's only room for responsible new builds.
- Ealing Studios is the world’s oldest film studio. Its 1950s comedies are deemed to be some of the most enduring classics of British cinema.
- Ealing Art College has some very well known alumni, including Pete Townshend of The Who, Queen’s Freddie Mercury and Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones.
- Ealing has the largest Sikh temple outside India.
- In the first 30 years of the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club’s existence, three of its female players won no fewer than 18 Wimbledon singles titles and were runners up a further 17 times.
Architecture and property
Ealing’s property development owes much to Charles Jones, the area’s first architect, engineer and surveyor. Responsible for many of Ealing’s civic buildings, his work includes the Ealing Town Hall, built in a Gothic Revival style. The desirable Ealing Village is a Grade II listed Art Deco housing estate with its own private road, pool and tennis court. It was designed in the 1930s to attract film stars working at the nearby Ealing Studios.
The holy grail of Ealing property is the array of five and six bedroom Victorian detached houses in the Mount Park Conservation Area. Ealing’s numerous green spaces mean lots of locals are able to find homes overlooking parks. Flats on the roads surrounding Ealing Common are particularly desirable, such as those in Gunnersbury Manor on Elm Avenue. For apartment living, there are numerous period conversions and in recent years some high rise contemporary developments have offered upmarket flats, such as those in The Apex and The Curve buildings.
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Eating: Popular local restaurant Charlotte's Place has been a key player in Ealing’s culinary scene for almost 30 years and was the Good Food Guide Readers’ London Restaurant of the Year in 2013. Step out of West Ealing station and make for The Drayton Court Hotel and Pub, just across the road. Its pub garden is said to be one of the largest in London and in summer locals while away lazy afternoons sipping Pimm’s at picnic tables.
Culture: The Questors is one of the largest amateur theatres in Europe with around 1,500 members, staging around 20 productions annually. After a show, pop into the lively Grapevine Bar. The Ealing Art Group welcomes new members of all artistic abilities and the OPEN Ealing centre has injected vitality into the Ealing arts community, with exhibitions and performances by established and up and coming artists.
Festivals: There’s no need to fork out big bucks for the major UK music festivals, as Ealing locals have an array of summer activity on their doorstep. Ealing Summer Festivals put on various events between June and August in Ealing’s best parks, proving both world class entertainment and an opportunity for community bonding. The Ealing Blues Festival and the Ealing Jazz Festival feature performances from international musicians, while the Ealing Comedy Festival offers five nights of great stand up comedy. The Ealing Beer Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014 and is still going strong.
- Savvy shoppers know there’s only one place to go to satisfy all their retail therapy needs. The Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre has most high street chains, including Boots, Marks & Spencer and Argos, as well as several leading fashion boutiques. It is the ultimate one stop shop for Ealing locals, also home to a library and a Nuffield Health gym with pool and crèche.
- Ealing has branches of most large supermarkets. The West Ealing Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s on Melbourne Avenue both have car parks, but for really fresh organic produce, locals make for Ealing Farmers’ Market on Leeland Road. Open every Saturday morning, stallholders include The Hand Picked Shellfish Company, Ye Olde Pie Emporium and the Bath Soft Cheese Company.
- Ealing has a number of very reasonably priced spas and beauty salons. Life Spa offers discounts for locals, while the massages at Body & Sole are rated as some of the best in the area.
- The Pitshanger Bookshop is an Ealing institution and the independent store has been helping locals pick out their next must read for almost 20 years.
Despite being bordered on three sides by some of West London’s busiest roads, Ealing is an impressively green area. It has lots of small parks dotted around the borough and larger spaces on its northern and western edges, meaning that wherever you are in Ealing you rarely have to travel far to get back to nature. At the heart of the borough lies Walpole Park, home to the historic Sir John Soane designed Pitzhanger Manor. This is the most popular green space, and along with Lammas Park, is supported by community group Walpole Friends. The open parkland of Ealing Common is a popular spot for weekend sports and picnics, while the Fox Wood Nature Reserve is one of the few remaining woodland areas in the borough.
Ealing is experiencing a surge of new development and new homes are popping up all across the borough, such as the high end apartments and penthouses at Dickens Yard. Ealing Broadway Station will be substantially remodelled, with work beginning in October 2015, to welcome Crossrail. This will link Ealing to 40 stations across the Capital and cut existing journey times. Services will start in 2019.
Tube: Ealing has four Tube stations all in Zone 3. Ealing Broadway is at the end of the Central and District Lines, Ealing Common is on the District and Piccadilly Lines and North and South Ealing are on the Piccadilly Line.
Rail: First Great Western trains from Ealing Broadway and West Ealing to Paddington take just 10 to 15 minutes, with the Heathrow Connect service getting you to the airport in less than 30 minutes.
Bus: Ealing is served by an impressive number of bus routes, including the 65 (to Kingston), 83 (to Golders Green) and 297 (to Willesden). Several of its routes run 24 hour services.
Cycle: Proposals to build a Cycle Superhighway between Tower Hill and Acton could make life even easier for Ealing cyclists, who currently enjoy a 40 minute cycle to Hammersmith.
Road: Ealing’s West London location means locals can be on the M25 in less than 40 minutes and it’s only half an hour to Heathrow.
Ealing borough has 91 state run schools and nurseries, so there’s something for every family. Primary schools include Little Ealing and North Ealing and there are several Catholic schools, including St Gregory’s and St Joseph’s. Its secondary schools are equally varied, and Twyford Church of England High School and The Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School are two popular choices alongside Drayton Manor High School. Independent schools include the co ed St Benedict’s School and St Augustine’s Priory, which caters for boys and girls at junior school level and girls at senior level.
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